Price of Survival: Navigating the Cost of Cancer Treatment

Did you know thousands of cancer patients and their loved ones are knee-deep in medical bills and unexpected costs? As discussed in our previous article, millions of people worldwide turn to medical tourism due to the high cost of treatments in the United States and other developed countries. To survive their disease and ensure a comfortable future, they must understand these cancer-related costs and implement techniques to control their expenses.


Hidden Costs of Cancer Treatment

Treatment and hospital bills aside, the hidden costs of cancer treatment can add up quickly, impacting a patient’s finances. These costs encompass transportation expenses to and from treatment appointments, parking fees, and childcare or eldercare costs for patients who need to step away from caring for their children or older relatives.

Making the situation more financially perplexing, patients and survivors may need to purchase specialized clothing or equipment to accommodate the physical changes associated with some cancers and their treatments. Unfortunately, most insurance companies do not cover such costs.


Financial Implications of Cancer’s Long-Term Side Effects

While cancer treatment can save lives, it could also have long-term side effects. For example, chemotherapy and radiation therapy can cause fatigue, cognitive impairment, and other troubles that make it challenging to return to work or maintain regular employment. Cancer may also recur weeks or years after initial treatment. 

Related: A Five-Step Guide to Returning to Work After Cancer Treatment


Coping Strategies for Managing the Financial Impact of Cancer

One effective method for managing the financial impact of cancer is to seek financial counseling from a reputable professional – someone who can help patients understand how to cope with medical bills and other charges (organizations like CancerCare may offer this service for free to qualified individuals). Patients should also consider cutting back on unnecessary spending and reducing living costs to save money for health-related payments.


Financial Assistance Resources for Cancer Patients and Survivors

Oncology social workers and cancer care specialists can provide referrals to financial resources and support services. For additional resources or referrals, many local and national service organizations aim to help patients and survivors cope with the cost of cancer care.

Contact the following (or review their websites) to learn more about the programs and services available:


Financial Planning Tips for Cancer Patients

Financial planning and budgeting are essential skills for patients and survivors. As mentioned earlier, individuals have the option to work with a financial planner to develop a savings plan that considers ongoing medical expenses and other financial obligations. Patients can also explore options for debt consolidation or payment plans to help manage hospital bills and treatment costs.

Read the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s guide to organizing your cancer-related bills and paperwork for more information.



Cancer treatments can take a significant toll on the finances of patients and their families. By being aware of the hidden costs of treatment and the potential long-term side effects, as well as accessing financial assistance resources and implementing budgeting strategies, cancer patients and survivors can manage the financial impact of their diagnosis and improve their overall well-being.



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